Here’s to 2017! Specifically, here’s to lots of sewing and quilting in 2017. I’m already looking forward to several projects — and not just new ones. There’s a stack of UFOs beckoning that I am actually enthusiastic about tackling. But not today.
On this fresh new day of the year, I’m looking back on what I created in 2016. Rather than going in chronological order, I’m grouping my finishes by categories.
This was the year of the Junior Billie Bag, the quintessential quilter’s tote designed by Billie Mahorney. I made a bag for myself . . .
. . . and one for my friend Deborah . . .
. . . and one for my friend Miriam:
Next category: baby quilts. This is the first of two incorporating a charming giraffe-themed fabric panel:
Here’s the second one, using the same fabrics in a slightly different setting:
I didn’t use a pattern for these quilts, preferring to play with simple shapes (squares and rectangles) so that the giraffes on the fabric panels would be the focal point.
My third baby quilt of the year was this one using the pattern Just Can’t Cut It from All Washed Up Quilts:
All three were quilted by longarmer Sherry Wadley.
All by itself in the mini quilt category is Ring Toss, based on the pattern Mini Rings by Sew Kind of Wonderful:
Mini Rings was quilted by Karlee Sandell of SewInspired2Day. Oh, and that’s our new rescue kitty Princess Cordelia (Coco for short).
Lap quilts is the next category. Once again I used a Sew Kind of Wonderful design, adapting the pattern Chic Diamonds into this quilt I named Dragonfly Kisses:
It was quilted by Sherry Wadley.
The next quilt, Where It’s @, was started in July in a class with Karla Alexander of Saginaw Street Quilts. It’s based on her pattern Rewind. I really stepped outside my comfort zone with this quilt, and I absolutely love the result:
The last quilt in this category is Stella by Starlight, a “kaleido-spinner” using the Spinners block by Heather Peterson of Anka’s Treasures:
I call it a “kaleido-spinner” because the six equilateral triangles in each block were cut from identical repeats of the focus fabric, creating a kaleidoscope effect of sorts. The four small hexagon blocks are true kaleidoscope blocks.
Both Where It’s @ and Stella by Starlight were quilted by Karlee Sandell.
The next category is runners, both bed and table. I made one of each, using the same focus fabric in each (Wander by Joel Dewberry) and the same block design (Spinners by Anka’s Treasures) with completely different outcomes. Here is WanderLust I, the king size bed runner made with five blocks:
I liked the focus fabric so much I made the bed runner reversible:
The final category is a bit of a hodgepodge. I made a quilted cover for my stepmother’s new iPad Pro . . .
. . . and a cardholder for her bridge hands:
For my friend and fellow Quister (Quilt Sister) Vickie I made an iron caddy that doubles as a pressing mat . . .
. . . plus a matching 4″ x 4″ fabric box that she can use as a threadcatcher:
For myself I made some accessories to match my Junior Billie Bag: a rotary cutter coat made from my tutorial . . .
. . . and a scissors case . . .
. . . and a sewing caddy that sits upright in a Lucite stand:
A 4″ x 4″ fabric box (yes, it’s a threadcatcher) completes the ensemble:
As you have surmised, I’m crazy in love with that fabric line (Paradise by Alisse Coulter for Camelot Cottons). I expect you’ll see more of it in 2017, as I bought a lot when it was released a couple years ago.
I’m sending a shout out to the talented longarm quilters who transformed my 2016 quilt tops into beautiful quilts — Coleen Barnhardt, Karlee Sandell, Debbie Scroggy, and Sherry Wadley — and to you, my loyal blog readers, for your continuing interest and support of First Light Designs.
Any idea what it is? I won’t keep you in suspense: it’s a scissors case made to hold the 6″ Gingher scissors I take with me to quilt classes.
Here’s what the case looks like closed:
It’s part of a set that includes a rotary cutter coat made in June, a sewing tool caddy made over Thanksgiving, and a fabric box made somewhere in between that serves as a threadcatcher:
With the exception of the fuchsia and white dot, the fabrics in these pieces come from the same line used in the Junior Billie Bag I made at the beginning of this year:
The fabric line is “Paradise,” designed by Alisse Courter for Camelot Fabrics. I am as charmed by these fabrics now as when I first saw them last year. I didn’t really plan it but I wound up with a matched set.
It’s Thanksgiving Day and I am thankful to be here in Georgia at the home of my twin sister, Diane, celebrating with her family and my own DH. After six days away from my sewing machine, however, I am eager to get back behind the wheel. (A sewing machine has a flywheel, after all.)
Many years ago I brought my old Elna sewing machine (purchased in 1975) to Diane’s home, and I have worked on many a quilt and home dec project since then. This year I brought a few small projects from home to work on, including a new sewing tool caddy using some favorite fabrics I have used on other quilting accessories:
The pattern (Travel Case by Pearl P. Pereira of 3designs.com) calls for three pockets on the inside to hold tools but I am adding a fourth pocket:
My fabrics are cut and ready to sew but I am putting everything away for now to help Diane with Thanksgiving Dinner. The air is already redolent with the smell of pumpkin pie, which just came out of the oven. The turkey goes in next!
For those of you who celebrate American Thanksgiving, I hope the same good smells are permeating your home and that you too are spending the day with loved ones.
I’m heading off shortly to Hood Canal in Washington State for a quilt retreat organized by the Pine Needle, the quilt shop where I teach. On one evening I’m going to show my students how to make a rotary cutter coat based on my free pattern (tutorial here).
As I was gathering my materials yesterday, I realized I didn’t have a rotary cutter coat of my own. All the ones I have made were given away.
I fixed that in short order. Here is my (new) rotary cutter coat:
The fabric? Two prints from the Paradise line designed by Alisse Courter for Camelot Cottons. I bought a lot of this line when it came out last year. You may recognize it, because it goes with the Junior Billie Bag I made a few months ago. These are the front and back panels of my bag:
Now my Billie Bag is packed for the retreat, including my new rotary cutter coat:
Time to announce the winners of my Rotary Cutter Case giveaway. First, here’s a look at what’s up for grabs:
I used a Random Number Generator to draw three names. And the winners are:
In their comments, Bill said he liked the rotary cutter coat in the middle best, Janet liked the one on the left, and Jayne said she would be happy with any one of them, so she will get the one on the right. How perfectly providential! Winners, please email me your mailing addresses and I will get them in the mail to you this week.
Didn’t win? Sorry! But you can make a rotary cutter coat for yourself or perhaps one for a friend. Directions are available as a one-page handout or as a full step-by-step tutorial with lots of pictures.
Thanks to everyone who checked out my Giveaway post and to those who left comments. Have a great week!
Would you like to win one of these rotary cutter coats? I’m hosting a Giveaway and will send one of these cases to three lucky winners. To enter all you need to do is add a comment at the bottom of this post answering one of two questions:
1) which case do you like the best and why (fabric? buttons? color combo? something else)?
2) how did you find out about my website/blog?
The Giveaway will remain open through this week. I’ll draw three names using a random number generator and announce the winners early next week. I will mail anywhere in the world so international readers are welcome to enter.
A tutorial for making one of these rotary cutter coats can be found here.
Good luck, everyone, and thank you so much for visiting First Light Designs!
Today’s my day to post in the “Around the World Blog Hop.” It’s like a chain letter passed from one blogger to another. What a fun way to meet new quilters and discover new quilting blogs! My assignment is to respond to four questions and then tag another quilter who will post on the same questions a week later.
I was tagged by Debbie Scroggy of All Quilted, LLC. Debbie is a local award-winning professional longarm quilter whose clients keep coming back because she does beautiful work. She takes care to bring out the best in every quilter’s project. I know this because she has quilted two quilts for me — and they will certainly not be the last. I’ve seen examples of quilting Debbie has done for other people as well as quilts she has made herself. You’ll see for yourself when you click on the link above. And when you do, you’ll find a link to the blogger who tagged her. This blog hop takes you backward as well as forward.
Moving forward, you will hop from Oregon halfway across the North American continent to visit Jennifer Gwyn of Seams Crazy. Jennifer lives in Houston, Texas with her husband and two young children. Despite the demands of working and raising a family, she still manages to get a lot of quilting done. Jennifer’s fabric choices are always pleasing to the eye. I especially admire her ability to go scrappy when the quilt calls for it. I have Jennifer to thank for the project you see below. She wrote about it on her blog late last year and got me hooked.
On to the assignment at hand.
1. What am I working on? Ah, the easy question first. I always have several projects underway. One is my series sampler quilt, Reach for the Stars:
I’ve been working on this quilt since the beginning of the year, and the end is tantalizingly in sight. At the moment I’m trying to solve the puzzle of how to make the borders match in all four corners, something the original design does not do. The math doesn’t work out, and I’m trying to figure out a creative way to make it work.
I’m currently teaching a class on this bag at the Pine Needle and need to make a tote along with my students to demonstrate the steps. In the photo above, that’s the lining you see on the left. The green strip turns into pockets that go around the entire inside of the bag. Clever!
Yet another project is this Rotary Cutter Coat, one of my own designs:
Look closely at the fabrics in the unfinished project above: those are zipper pulls and zipper teeth on the front and straight pins on the back. So cute! (I posted a tutorial a few days ago that includes a link to the free pattern; perhaps you’d like to make a rotary cutter coat yourself.) As soon as the zipper pull coat above is finished, I’m going to give all three away. I hope you’ll come back later this week for my Giveaway.
2. How does my work differ from others of its genre? I would be hard pressed even to identify what genre my work fits in. I’m all over the map in terms of the kinds of quilts I like — and the kinds of quilts I like to make. Am I a traditional quilter? Absolutely. Non-traditional quilter? Yes. Modern quilter? Yes. Art quilter? That too. I tend to make what pleases me, and most of the time my work pleases others. That’s satisfying on both fronts.
3. Why do I create what I do? It’s all about the fabric. I love fabric! I love to make things with it. My mother taught me to sew when I was 12 years old, and I honestly can’t remember a time I didn’t have some kind of sewing project underway. I made all of my own clothes well into the 1980s (past the time when it was cheaper to make clothing than to buy it), along with pillows and curtains and other “soft furnishings.” By then I had also discovered quilting, which became a creative outlet and antidote to an intense work schedule. When I retired six years ago, quilting — and then teaching quilting — took over my life. Oh, and sewing for my sisters, who think I’m the Home Dec Queen.
4. How does my creative process work? Often an element in a quilt — a block, perhaps, or a border — will catch my eye, and I will think about how I might incorporate it into a quilt of my own. Or I will look at a traditional block and ponder how it might be jazzed up a bit. I will look at a design element and think, “What if I did this or that to it?” Some of my best ideas have come from asking myself, “What if . . .?”
Some of my work is frankly derivative. Case in point: the rotary cutter coats pictured above. A couple of years ago I saw a pattern in a magazine for a quilted eyeglasses case. I was instantly transported back to the age of four, when I got my first pair of glasses. I came home from the optician with glasses on my nose and a faux-leather case to store them in when I wasn’t wearing them. The case was cut along the same lines as the one in the magazine. I examined the eyeglasses case in the photo and said to myself, “What if . . .?” The result was a case (or coat, as I like to call it) designed specifically for a rotary cutter, though it could certainly double as a case for a pair of large eyeglasses.
I find inspiration everywhere: not just in books and magazines but also in nature, the work of other quilters and crafters, designs in fabric, a sidewalk, a coffee cup. I study quilts I like — and quilts I don’t much care for — to understand what appeals to me and why. Straying from the familiar path and trying something new are parts of the creative process, so I take classes whenever I can.
Jennifer’s “Blog Hop Around the World” post is due Oct. 20, one week from today. But you don’t have to wait till then to visit her blog. Go there now and see what she’s working on. Not only will you get a glimpse of her Reach for the Stars fabrics, you’ll be able to check out the size of her stash. Oh my!
What quilter wouldn’t love one of these quilted cases to hold her rotary cutter? The buttons and contrast trim make the cases look like little coats — so that is what I am calling them. A finished coat measures about 3¾” x 8″.
This tutorial guides you step by step. You can also download a one-page handout.
Fabric and notions One piece of fabric 9″ x 10½” for outside of coat
One piece of fabric 9″ x 10½” for inside (lining)
One piece of fabric 18″ square for bias binding
One piece of lightweight batting trimmed to 9″ x 10½”
One piece of freezer paper about 10″ x 11″
¼”-wide Steam-a-Seam 2 (double stick fusible web)
Two buttons 7/8″ – 1¼” in diameter
1. Download and print the pattern. The bottom edge of the pattern should measure 9½”. If the measurement is less than that, enlarge the pattern slightly. (If the bottom edge measures 9¼”, the pattern will still work just fine. All you need to do is alter the flap measurement in Step 10 to 2-5/8″.)
2. Trace the pattern onto the flat (not shiny) side of the freezer paper. Cut around the outside edges of the pattern. Set pattern aside.
Are you wondering what that blue and white plate is doing in the picture above? I thought it would amuse you to know that’s what gave me the shape for the rounded part of the pattern.
3. Lay the lining fabric wrong side up on a flat surface. Lay the batting fabric on top. Lay the outside fabric right side up on top of the batting. You now have a quilt sandwich. Baste and quilt as desired.
You can quilt any motif you desire. Free-motion quilting is an option but I usually take the easy route and quilt straight lines or random curved lines using my walking foot. With straight lines I often stitch on the diagonal about 1″ apart. In the example below I used straight lines at right angles to form a chevron design:
In the two rotary cutter coats pictured at the top of my post, I quilted random wavy lines horizontally in both, although vertical lines would look good too. In the one with the black background I used a 40-wt thread in a contrasting color. Here’s a close-up of that one (after I had cut the pattern out):
In the other one (pictured in the rest of this post), I wanted the thread to blend so I used a 50-wt thread in pale grey.
4. Center the freezer paper pattern (shiny side down) on the right side of the quilt sandwich and press with a dry iron:
5. You could cut the pattern out with scissors but using your rotary cutter is faster and more accurate. Align the rotary cutter and ruler along the bottom and sides of the pattern and cut. Use the rotary cutter and ruler to cut the beginning of the curves as shown below:
Use scissors to cut the rest of the curve:
Peel off freezer paper pattern for repeated use. Use scissors to round off the side edges on the quilt sandwich.
6. Cut 18″ square of binding fabric corner to corner on the diagonal. From each piece cut a strip 2-1/8″ wide along the bias edge. Sew strips together using an angled seam. You need a length about 34″ long. Fold strip in half lengthwise and press.
7. With the walking foot still on your machine, attach binding to the right side of the case as you would for a quilt, starting and ending along the bottom edge. Leave a tail 5-6″ long and begin stitching 1-1/4″ away from the first corner:
Gently guide the bias binding around the curve of the quilt sandwich, stitching a scant 1/4″ seam. When you get to the other side of the bottom, end your stitching 1″ in from the edge.
8. Use your favorite method of joining the ends of the binding. This is the method I use:
See the red vertical line marked on the binding strip? When I trim the strip there, the two edges of the binding will overlap 2-1/8″, the exact measurement of the binding strip width. (That’s a scrap of the binding fabric at the bottom of the photo, placed there to show you that it’s the same width as the overlap of the two strips.)
Open up the binding strips and join them right sides together at a 90 ° angle, being careful not to twist the strips. See the red line? That’s my stitching line. I’ve got the ends pinned to the ironing board to give you a good look:
Stitch the binding seam, trim to 1/4″, press open, and finish stitching the seam along the bottom edge, beginning and ending a few stitches beyond the original stitching lines:
9. Turn the binding toward the inside (lining) of the case — it will cup nicely around the curve — and press in place. If the folded edge of the binding doesn’t completely cover the stitching line, trim the seam a bit. I find I usually have to do this around the curved edge.
At this point you could stitch the binding down by hand — but if you can find Steam-a-Seam 2, why not give it a try? It’s a double-stick fusible webbing product made by the Warm Company that makes fast work of finishing a binding. It’s sold by the yard but also comes in rolls ¼” and ½” wide. If you can’t find it on a roll, buy about a half yard and simply cut off ¼” strips as needed.
Using the ¼” wide roll, cut off a strip about 4″ long and peel off the release paper:
The Steam-a-Seam 2 is sticky on both sides but not so sticky that you can’t manipulate it. It goes around curved seams beautifully. Lay the strip of Steam-a-Seam 2 along the seam line, with the edge right next to the stitching:
Draw the binding over the seam allowance so that the folded edge just covers the webbing. Hold in place on the ironing board with pins:
After you have two or three lengths of webbing in place, press the binding briefly to baste the webbing to the fabrics. Leave about an inch of webbing unpressed so that you can lift up the binding and see where the next strip needs to go. When you have worked all the way around, sandwich the rotary cutter coat between a press cloth and steam fully, following the directions on the package of Steam-a-Seam 2. In a very few minutes, your rotary cutter coat will look like this from the front and back:
10. Fold case along fold lines, lapping one side over the other in front. (It doesn’t matter which side you lap first.) Both flaps should measure 2¾” from fold to outside edges of binding. Adjust this measurement slightly if necessary so that the finished case measures 3¾” wide. Cut a strip of Steam-a-Seam 2 the same measurement and insert it along the inside bottom edge. Fuse flap in place.
Fold second flap in place, making sure it also measures 2¾” from the fold to the outside edge:
Use another strip of Steam-a-Seam 2 to fuse the bottom of the case completely closed (or whipstitch securely by hand).
11. Now it’s time to sew on the buttons, which serve no function other than to look beautiful. And they are what makes this little rotary case a coat, so do add them. Sew them in place on the outer flap; no need to sew through both layers.
The bottom of the lower button should be 1-1/8″ or so from the bottom of the case:
Let your eye and the size of the buttons guide you.
The last step: tacking the binding in place about 1″ down from the point where the bound edges meet:
Now tuck your rotary cutter into its elegant new coat:
Have fun with this tutorial! If you have any questions or run into a problem, let me know, and I’ll do my best to help you out.
A couple weeks ago the Pine Needle Quilt Shop, where I teach, held its annual fall Open House. I was on hand to promote my upcoming classes and share a sewing project or two. It’s always fun to talk to customers, fondle the newest fabrics in the shop, and visit with the other teachers. Local luminaries Violet Craft, Christina Cameli, and Rachel Kerley are joining the ranks of Pine Needle teachers this fall. I’m in good company!
One of the sewing projects I showed off at Open House was a rotary cutter case I designed a couple of years ago. I made up a few samples, which we gave away as door prizes:
These cases are also good for eyeglasses but I prefer them for rotary cutters. Don’t they look like little coats?
They make great gifts. And the holiday season is fast approaching. Hmmm . . . I’m thinking a tutorial is in order (and maybe even a giveaway!). What do you think, readers? Would you like to know how to make an eyeglasses case or rotary cutter coat?
I wrote in an earlier post about my very first Quilt-Along, hosted by Jenny of sewkindofwonderful.com. A few weeks have passed since the Quilt-Along officially ended and I’ve finally finished the top of one of the projects I started:
It measures 48″ square, a good size for a baby quilt. I’m toying with the idea of using curves in the border but will wait till I’ve quilted it before making a final decision.
And here’s a little something I made recently for my friend Vivienne’s birthday: